My daughter has had the same best friend for over a decade. I'm not just talking about friends who have known each other since birth. I'm talking a true best friend. These two are always there for each other, even though they no longer live 5 minutes apart. I hope they each realize how fortunate they are and I hope their friendship continues to grow!
I stood outside and kept my eyes upon that empty chair. That line from a song always spoke to me. I feel like I spend most of my life on the outside, always looking in. Logically, I know my anxiety always keeps me a little on the outside, but it's more than that.
Normally, I spend a good portion of my time sad that I can't be more social. I spend time wondering what's wrong with me and why people don't ask me to do things. This week, though, something happened that made me realize, I will always be the person on the outside. Even if I make it in, I will always have one foot out the door, just in case. More than that, I realized, I'm OK with it.
People look at me and think I have a lot of friends. I don't. I am friendly. I am helpful. I am compassionate. Those things make others think I'm outgoing and have a ton of friends. In fact, when I told someone that certain things are hard for me because I have social anxiety, he was shocked. He would have never guessed. I work really, really hard to hide it, but it's always there. It's always making me feel unwanted....always on the outside.
My epiphany came in the form of awkward silence. It was in a moment of awkward silence that I realized, I don't need people who don't need me. Why do I want to be part of people's lives when the only time I'm good for their lives is when they need something? I'm the reliable one, not the fun one. The thing is, for the true friends, I'm also the fun one. Why would I want to be with people who don't care if they are with me or not? Why do I want to be seat filler?
I didn't know that I had made peace with being on the outside until I got in my car and started blasting my music. I may be old, but I still like to listen to my music cranked all the way up and sing at the top of my lungs. I only do this on special occasions now, when I'm feeling particularly free. As I turned up the music, I realized how free I felt. I had to really stop and think about why my mood was what it was. I realized it was because I'm alright not being that seat filler. I'm alright being on the outside. When it comes to the people who I truly matter to, I'm not on the outside. I have a name tag at my place at the table, not just filling an empty seat. I realize I will still feel bad at times while on the outside, but, at least I know that I don't need people who don't want me to have a permanent seat at their table.
Not many people can say they have found friends who are truly like family. I am fortunate enough to have found several of those groups of friends. I'm not just talking about friends who look out for your kids or friends you can hang out and be yourself with. I am talking about friends with whom you have a deep connection. As I grow older, I don't think of friendships for myself as much for my kids. Husband is my soulmate. He's my best friend, so my friendships are often secondary. However, over the years, I have made some amazing friends. Friends who I can call on for pretty much anything.
Sunshine is blessed with the most wonderful best friend in the world (aside from her brother,who is her best friend, as well, but it's different). Sunshine and [H] have been friends since Sunshine was born. Literally. I have watched their friendship grow over the years and it amazes me. After spending the first five years of their lives seeing each other no less than once a week, I was worried when they had to split for Kindergarten. Then, I worried again when [H] moved further away. But, none of that weakened their friendship. The girls still get together at least once a month and it's like they have never been apart. [H] is part of our family. She always has been, but there's something deeper about it. All four of us in this family would do anything to help [H]. She went through a rough patch this year, and it hurt all of us that she had to deal with it. We made sure Sunshine and [H] saw each other a little more so that [H] would know there were people who loved her. Friendship like that is rare.
Yesterday, I realized that we have another group of friends who have the same deep connection with. [A] has been my friend for 9 years. She is a person I can always count on to be there for me, even if it's just to sit and say nothing with. I have always adored her children. Our children have always all gotten along. I would do anything to help out her family and I know she would do anything to help out mine. But yesterday, I saw something different with our kids. I saw that deep connection. Our kids would also do anything for each other. I'm not just talking about the girls sticking with each other or the boys sticking with each other. I'm talking about all of them, together. Both of my kids would do anything they could to help both of her kids. It's not just a hope that her kids feel the same, I know they would. It's how they treat each other. It's how they interact as a group. Our whole family sees it. My kids, throughout the years of knowing this family, have commented on how they have the same values as we do.
This all got me thinking about how we moved away from our core values over the past year. It's not that we have forgotten our values. It's more that we've forgotten how it feels to be with those who hold the same values and we need to get back to that. This summer, I will make a conscience effort to bring those who hold the values around more often and try to put a little distance between those who do not hold the same values. No, I'm not saying we're only going to be friends with people who are just like us. That's just ridiculous. What I'm saying is, I want my children to form stronger bonds with children who find the same things in life important.
The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to stick to your beliefs. I also realize that surrounding yourself with too many people who hold different beliefs actually makes you forget yourself a little and makes you someone you don't necessarily like. That's why I'm going to work so hard now for my children. With all the hard choices they have to make in life, I want them to have people one their side who hold the same things dear. I want them to see they are not alone in their beliefs. I want them to see that they don't have to change who they are for their friends. Strengthening this now will only help them later in life. It's time to go back to the start and let the future begin.
I have been part of MOMS Club for 6 years. When I first joined, Monster was 2 and I was newly pregnant with Sunshine. In fact, the MOMS Club Membership Drive was my first event that I attend after not being able to leave the house for a month due to horrible morning sickness. When I first heard of MOMS Club, I wasn't sold. I had been in a sorority and found it really was not for me. It seemed like this club was just one big sorority, but with little people, too. However, a friend of mine convinced me to do it. What did I have to lose? Worst that happened was that I would find more stuff to do with Monster. I didn't have to actually become friends with these people. So I joined. And something crazy happened. I actually liked some of these women! Let's be honest, I didn't like them all. In fact, there are still women from when I first joined that I would rather rip off my fingernails with pliers than have to actually have a conversation with (and living in Smalltown, USA, I am lucky enough to run into these people every so often). Yet, I was surprised by the amount of people I actually did like. Six years later, I'm no longer friends with some people I thought I'd be friends with forever, and I am friends with people that I didn't think I'd necessarily have anything in common with.
Our crazy life has made MOMS Club events very difficult to attend in the past 2 years. Yet, I wasn't ready to leave. Last year, I swore it was going to be my last year. Then, the day I had to renew, I changed my mind. I wasn't ready. I still needed that support system. One year later, I'm still not ready, but, maybe I never will be. The thing is, the people who are my friends are my friends no matter if I'm in MOMS Club or not. The people who I count on and lean on will still be there. I know this, and that's why it's time to rip off the bandaid. It's hard to let go of something that has been such a huge part of our lives for 6 years. We are moving on. My kids are getting older and I'm moving from MOMS Club to PTO.
I may no longer talk to the person who introduced me to MOMS Club, but I thank her. I thank her for that push out of my comfort zone. It is not something I would have ever joined on my own. I have met such fantastic people and learned so much from everyone. MOMS Club gave my kids some of their first friends and some of their best friends. It also gave me some of my best friends, those women whom I'd be lost without. So I guess I'm officially doing this....Thank you, MOMS Club, for all you have given me. I hope that all of you remember what it's really about...supporting each other. For those of you not sure about any sort of moms group, whether it be MOMS Club or something else, go for it. What do you have to lose? Like the person who convinced me to join said, "It's one year. You don't have to be friends with these people if you don't want to, but it gives us more stuff to do with [the kids]". Take a chance. You may just meet some of the most amazing people of your life.